Thursday, December 06, 2007

A first for me...a Google disclaimer...and I think I like it.

I came across another interesting first for me today.

I was searching Google for a particular public domain video that I'm considering using in my online class called "The Eternal Jew", and searched using the exact phrase. The first link on the search return page was a sort of Google apology. i.e. "for what you are about to see, we are truly sorry" It was just interesting and the first such notice I had ever seen.

Certainly material that is offensive to me has shown up before on Google searches without any such disclaimer. Even the offensive N-word (if you're not from North America, look it up) received no such treatment. I'm thinking that I like the approach, and just wish more terms generated such a thoughtful Google disclaimer and explanation...but must admit, that I'm tempted to see what else I can search on to elicit a Google disclaimer.

I should also make clear that I find "The Eternal Jew", a Nazi-era propaganda film, to be disturbing and extremely offensive, but it is a very powerful (and free) example of propaganda (vs. documentary) and its effects that I try to discuss in my online class.
-JG

See the exact Google text here:

Sunday, November 25, 2007

"Facebook used to be cool, and now it's all, like, junkie"


I'm not sure what it means, but my 15 yr old daughter who has been a Facebook fanatic, laments that "Facebook used to be cool, and now it's all, like, junkie"--a sentiment I share given my own experience with Facebook.

By opening up their API, have they imploded under the weight of wave after wave of junk apps--compatibility tests, "hot or not" and the like? My daughter says she has to "ignore" 50 invites a day, even from supposed "friends" in her network, and she doesn't even accept solicitation from anyone outside her network.

My point is that as educators have spoken about being where our students are--being in the spaces that they occupy--being in Facebook and MySpace. I'm not sure what to think about that if my daughter and here friends are already growing weary of them...and yet she doesn't want to start all over again in another social network She feels trapped.

I honestly don't know what this means or how this will all shake out, but I tend to put more trust in my daughter and friends than I do in the industry trend reports. At the same time my Linked-in account has grown quite a bit in the last couple months. Maybe the smaller networks are the more meaningful ones, maybe this is just Facebook experiencing growing pains.

What seems obvious to me is that we educators must create truly helpful/useful or fun applications, and not just empty applications aimed at trying to show how hip we are cuz we've gotta Facebook app too (this is no comment on PSU's recent entry!).
It will be interesting to watch.
-JG

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Sink or Swim: Front loading Challenging Learning Activities


I teach a digital-video-production-for-educators class online for Penn State World Campus, and am finishing a significant revision of the course. With this class, I'm concerned that I'm throwing my students in the deep end right at the outset of the class by having them plan, record, and upload an introduction of themselves on a video hosting site (Viddler, Voicethread, Teachertube, etc.). Some have never done anything with their videotapes--ever! let alone, connect their camera to their computer, edit, compress and post their videos to an online hosting site.

My concern is that by requiring this, I may be setting myself up for a tech support nightmare. I'm hoping this is not the case. I'm hoping that we've come to the point where 1) tools are easy enough to use, and 2) participants have enough online media literacy. The first I hope is especially true. The latter I'm here to help my students with.
Later assignments will have them first edit their videos and then post them and comment on each other's videos throughout the class.
E-learning guru, Michael Allen, says:

Learners prefer jumping into interesting tasks, then breaking them down into their components as it becomes necessary....Actually it's much more effective to present challenges first. If learners can meet the challenge then you won't have bored them by telling them what they already know. If they can't meet the challenge, they can ask for help, and in doing so will value the information they receive more and will see its relevance [paraphrased].

Believing he's right, I proceed to front load the challenging part of the class and get right to the whole point of the class--create and share effective instructional media using the tools of the day. I look forward to this new model over how we used to do it by sending videotapes back and forth by snail mail, email attachments or posting files to our CMS. I'm hoping that this new approach encourages far more collaboration and discussion around the videos, facilitates more experimentation and gives class participants new media skills--and that these skills will help them better do their respective jobs.
...but maybe deep down inside, I hope most of all that I haven't created a support nightmare.
-JG (did I mention that I've submitted ALL my final dissertation materials...all that's left now is the walk)

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Assignment #1: Post to Wikipedia

A professor has students publish a wikipedia article rather than generate and submit a term paper for only herself and the student to enjoy. I love the idea, and don't know why such a simple and fabulous idea didn't come to my mind a while ago. I do have my students post their videos online for the world to see...I guess that counts for something!
http://arstechnica.com/news.ars/post/20071030-prof-replaces-term-papers-with-wikipedia-contributions.html

-Joel G.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Open Source, Open Education & Where to Put Instructional Materials

An interesting Open Source and Open Education presentation with some interesting details on the stats of publishing and the dilemma of finding/making usable content that is out there.

I'm currently editing/repurposing/mashing up some open source content, and am trying to decide where/how best to house and present it. Feel free to suggest some ideas. I'm looking at Connexions and considering a wiki, but am not convinced it's the best way to go. The target audience for the instruction (teachers new to developing online instruction) will likely be using Angel for the forseeable future, but Moodle is another good option.

I guess in evaluating my goals, I simultaneously wish to expose them to other options beside their current LMS, but in doing so I run the risk of confusing them more than helping them. There is, of course, also great value in teaching them to best utilize the tools that they have available to them--today.

-JG

Change Happens...Lessons Live On (hopefully)

A Fall weekend hike in the woods of beautiful central Pennsylvania with my family and my camera reminded me of some things about change:

  • Like the color of the leaves, change happens...
  • Like the seasons, change happens...
  • Like the technology of yesteryear, change happens...
  • Like our children, change happens...
  • Like the way we use things, change happens...
...but hopefully we learn valuable lessons along the way, and enjoy/embrace/relish the change. More often than not, it is a sign of growth.


(click on the slideshow to visit the album and view full-screen)


-JG

Monday, October 22, 2007

The problem with "2.0"

Ryan Bretag posted a great little gem on the potential confusion caused by the recent "2.0"craze. So many terms (even in education) are getting the 2.0 treatment with unfortunately too little explication.
I agree that there is a more-than-trivial danger in applying a versioning scheme to learning and educational practice.
This may quickly get out of hand with everyone upping the ante, supposedly indicating that they have superior, latest-greatest teaching and learning going on.
If you think it's a puzzle now, just wait till some institutions/technologists start hawking and presenting at conferences on their new Learning 5.0 wares and methods!
I'm with Ryan on his trend-setting suggestion--i.e. start a trend of NOT using 2.0 language if we can help ourselves. I find myself waaay too often invoking (and furthering) the silly title of an otherwise important and meaningful phenomenon. I just don't think it is possible to stop at 2.0, and am concerned about already having seen mention of "Learning 2.5 and 3.0".
-Joel G.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Is Learning is Changing?

An interesting video clip on how learning has changed. It is a bit negative, addressing the worst of large lecture classes, but interesting nontheless.



-JG

Friday, October 19, 2007

Of under-desk keyboard trays, Magellan, and Instructional Technologists


I'm in the (very) early stages of gathering ideas for a job talk or some other presentation on the role of instructional designer and technologist as educational innovator and explorer. More than this, it is about living a life continual innovation and exploration (learning?), and helping build a culture of innovation around you. It seems related to other notions on my mind of late:

  • Web 2.0
  • learner/student/user-generated content
  • democratic forms of teaching and learning
I was pleasantly struck by a recent post by a co-worker , Jin An. He solved a simple problem he had with the keyboard tray stuck under many of our desks--what to do with the thing if your don't use it?! The point is not his solution, but the fact that he first documented the problem, and then shared his solution with all of us on our office blog. Nothing earth-shattering, just a simple solution, shared easily and in a helpful way with his peers. The blog platform, easy access to a digital camera (phone?) and my RSS feed brought his solution to my door step (computer screen).

No staff meeting, no training, no manual...just a beautifully simple example continuous exploration and innovation that I hope we all exhibit no matter what sphere we work in, no matter what our job or tasks are.

A key point here is that Jin exhibits the profession of educational explorer/innovator. Finding and keeping the solution for himself would have been completely appropriate and would have served his needs no less. A traveler, for example, can enjoy his/her travels and gawk at the wonder of it all. But in charting new territory in the rapidly changing landscape of educational technology and learning, like the explorers of yore (Magellan, Lewis & Clark, Cook, Marco Polo, Ibn Battuta, Zheng He), our job as instructional designers and technologists in the profession of educational explorer/innovator, is to document and share (publish) our discoveries.

I find myself too often selfish in my discoveries as I fail to share or adequately evaluate and document my personal discoveries for those that may follow. I may need to kick off another blog for my discoveries that don't quite fit the format and purpose of this blog. Hmmm. I'll give that some thought.
-JG

Monday, October 15, 2007

The future of elearning requires change in Tools, Processes AND Teachers

Funny how my thinking never seems to stray very far...and these are just out-loud thoughts right now.

I've been developing an online "course/workshop" with the goal of helping faculty who are new to online teaching and learning, navigate the waters of building their online courses. Quite honestly, I've been stumbling over myself on this project, and think it has something to do with what I see as inconsistencies in what I'm used to doing, and what I've come to value in recent months with regard to what online teaching/learning should be. I stumble in reconciling what "stuff" should be taught vs. what can be effectively learned without being experienced. In retrospect this is not completely new to me since I prefer learning through doing--both in my own teaching and in my own life.

Cole Camplese posted recently about what future elearning tools might (need to) look like. Cole says:

What I struggle with is the idea of what is a really good eLearning environment these days? In my mind, a handful of pages of content that link and embed objects that drive student and faculty to engage in conversations (on or off line) seems to be the goal. With that said, why not design those content pages in a blog so students and faculty (and maybe people from the outside) can have conversations in context? Why are we still struggling with what the right eLearning tool set looks like when we are sitting in a world with dozens of content creation tools? The model we are trying to avoid consists of tons of static text pages that prompt students to leave the content and jump into a discussion forum to interact — I’ve never liked that, but now the technology supports what I am after … the opportunity for conversation at every level of a course experience.
This is no trivial puzzle that has also occupied my thinking of late…I feel like the Grinch (who stole Christmas) in that he puzzled for hours "till his puzzler was sore"--how I feel on this particular issue.

The current model--or the way I've been trained to design instruction was largely content based, peppered with some online activities where possible. A lot of lip service is paid to active engagement and learning activities. Like Cole says, a host of disparate new tools exist out there that have a great deal of potential, but how to aggregate them, and how do you help teachers think differently about online teaching.

I and many others advocate some form of a 3-pronged attack--one that looks at:
  1. the enviroment (tools)
  2. the processes (learning activities)
  3. the people (both teachers AND students).
The environment/tools, processes and even students are coming along, but they are only 2/3 of the equation. The teachers and online teaching practice generally seems to lag a smidgen. These 3 areas have to move forward together to affect change, but too often the responsibilities for these 3 areas lie in different organizations and (try to) go forward uncoordinated.

-Joel G.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

That's "Dr. Galbraith" to you...

I just successfully defended my PhD thesis today. Yes, that's now Herr Professor, Sir, Dr. Galbraith to you ;-)

Boy do I feel the power! Actually, my wife and kids aren't that impressed, although they are delighted that Dad seems a little happier these days. As for me, I'm just glad to get out of college again before my oldest daughter starts college in a couple years (Graduation ceremony in December).

(Shortly after my successful defense at the Penn State Nittany Lion shrine)

It was a good experience. I had a wonderfully supportive and distinguished dissertation committee: Dr. Christopher Hoadley (chair), Dr. Barbara Grabowski, Dr. Katherine Augustine, and Dr. S. Shyam Sundar. I received some good feedback on my research, and felt they were genuinely interested. My dissertation title is:
The effects of Socially Relevant Representations on Learning, Social Presence and Interaction for students in Self-Directed Online Learning Settings
or in plain English...
The influence of warm and friendly instructional materials on students' learning and interaction when studying alone at the computer (not much better!)
I'll likely write more about my research here in the near future, but for now...I need a weekend break from it (comments and accolades welcome).
-Joel G.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Blogging: Lessons from Leonardo da Vinci

Amy Grahan posted some thoughts on "How to blog without the time sink". I like her comment on not treating posts as article writing, but rather like a "backup brain". She makes three main points on blogging:

  1. Blog your initial brainstorming (ideas).
  2. Blog your research & discovery (came across x today--just like this post).
  3. Blog your interactions (interesting conversations).
A few years ago, I visited an exhibition of Leonardo da Vinci's sketches at the Art Institute of Chicago. It was an amazing exhibit featuring a bunch of unfinished, not fully formed ideas, drawings and musings. The kind of stuff I doodled in the margins of my notebooks in highschool--only admittedly much better.

I found his unfinished, "unpublished" works amazing...if not more amazing that his polished work. Maybe because I got a glimpse on the process, on the thinking that makes his work so enduring. Though he didn't publish his notebooks, his unfinished "process" is an astounding exhibit itself!
Take a moment to visit the "turning the pages" link at the British Library site to see one amazing early-day blog! (scroll down on site to find Sketches by Leonardo)
So, I agree with Amy Grahan's points for the most part. I generally want and TRY to make each post to be a meaningful nugget. What that often means though, is that I delay writing thought/ideas that are good enough (i.e. great gets in the way of good enough) . It also means that when I do get around to writing, it is often too much. I for one have little patience reading long blog posts, and imagine others do too. So, I'm going to work on remedying this.

This handicap pervades much of my life. As I finish up my PhD dissertation, I have found nearly every step of the way in this process that I have let striving for perfection--notice I said "striving", not "achieving"!--paralyze my progress. I've been doing better lately, but it's a lesson I have to keep re-learning.

Blogging in some ways has, and can continue helping me do what Da Vinci did with his notebooks. It can help me get over my habit of perpetual tinkering and polishing--fearing to release my ideas into the world before they are fully formed.
so with that, and without turning this thought into an "article," I'm going to hit the publish button and see what happens.
-JG
[Update: I went back and edited this post a bunch---aaargh, though it is considerably better (and longer), I just couldn't leave good enough alone. Maybe I need to turn off editing rights for myself ;-) ]

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Busy, busy, busy...

I'm still here, but am involved in a project (ok, It's my PhD dissertation) that is consuming every moment of my time for at least another couple weeks. It's exhausting, but back to the grindstone I must go....
-Joel G.

Friday, August 31, 2007

Designing Reference Hybrids vs. Online courses

A good post here from Tony Karrer on his elearningtech blog. I'm in the midst of designing a course these days, and have been challenged with what to leave out! I've got gobs of material, but know that no one really cares or can make any real use of the material if it's spewed out all at once. Karrer writes about trends toward creating "Reference Hybrids" vs. creating "courses". The trend is toward shorter modules or nuggets vs. whole online courses. I like, and buy into the concept, but don't yet have many good models in mind.

I don't know if it's my own training in the old model, or if it's the university systems (or both) that seem to push against this approach--A proper online course should at least be equivalent in "rigor" (read seat time, amount of content) to a F2F course.

This idea of small portions of learning has been in the literature for years (job aids, just in time learning), but somehow now it seems to be really taking hold in higher education--at least in my own design efforts. Read Karrer's full post.
-JG

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

When Flexible loses its Flexibility

An interesting opinion letter to a campus paper. The student complains that so many of his courses are now online, that he's losing the campus experience. I also wonder about what a campus gains if most of their courses are online? What do the students gain? Simply changing the venue (classroom to online) doesn't necessarily increase student options or flexibility.
I could have gone to the University of Phoenix - Opinions
-JG

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

When "Best of Breed" maybe isn't best...

My latest thinking has been about what the current web2.0, best-of-breed, approach to learning technologies may mean for future learning systems--technically speaking.
When evaluating a new LMS or any large-system, vendors are keen to repeatedly point out how their open architecture will allow our system admins to plug-in, extend, add-on, and integrate any number of "best-of-breed" applications. (This can be code for "we don't have that service, don't plan on developing it, and rely on (hope that) others will build system extensions with your desired functionality.)

As attractive as so many of these nifty, browser-based, Ajax apps and web2.0 widgets are, what does it mean to have VLE or LMS systems that are so customizeable, personalizable and decentralized--read dependent on others' services?!?. Currently my Facebook, iGoogle, Firefox and similar pages or apps already come up now and then with unreachable services, or unavailable extensions. These can become especially problematic when any component piece is upgraded.

Companies like Blackboard have had what it calls "building blocks" for some time now, Facebook has created an api, now chuck full of more privacy-hemorrhaging gotta-haves than I even care or have time to explore. Moodle has numerous plugins and modules. Angel doesn't yet, but seems to be headed that direction. In the web2.0 world, there are seemingly endless tools (many in alpha, beta, gold) that have relevance to learning and digital expression. Mashable published a great list of 400+ tools for photographers, videobloggers, podcasters and musicians. Similar resources can be found go2web20.net and allthingsweb2.com.

Say you identify the best of breed apps for your course needs and want to integrate even just a tiny handful of these--and you just might after you try some of them--integrating the services, dealing with uptime, maintenance, server space, buy-outs, loss of venture capital, authentication, privacy could be a nightmare--especially if you are:

  • An instructor who has built their learning activities and assignments around the provided functionality
  • A student whose grade or portfolio relies on having stable services and storage for your assignments
  • The one tasked to provide simultaneously innovative, flexible and reliable services to the college or university
I plan on using some of these in an upcoming course I teach, but the what-if's are starting to worry me a touch. Still, as a designer and educator I want to use/explore many of these tools, and I think I want our systems people to facilitate it...but the more un-integrated 3rd party accounts I sign up for, the less I'm sure about it's positive effects on the overall and long-term learning experience. There's something to be said for tight integration , vs. Best of Breed (think Mac vs. PC). Does integration itself at some point make the whole system best of breed?

I'm not sure where its all headed, but those affiliated closely with Educause are concerned and write/speak on the topic. Feel free to share some good posts/articles you've see related to this post.
-Joel G.
(image source: soldierant)

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Internet Users Talking Less and Reading More?!?


I came across this short article describing an Online Publishers Association (OPA) report that claims that todays Internet users--compared with 4 years ago--are reading more and talking less. I should have dug into the cited report, but haven't yet. The idea seems to fly in the face of the the popularity of web2.0 apps. Digital expression appears to be on the rise in all areas from blogging, to video sharing, slideshows, to photos, to playlists, voip, and audio blogging and podcasting.

Sure I find myself reading far more online as well, but I'm definitely communicating and producing/sharing more online as well. Do I chat/IM as much as I did 4 years ago? No, I think that my IMing has actually diminished. Email is probably about the same (although I get far more email than I did 4 years ago--so much for spam filter progress!

Anyway, the article caused me to think, and wonder/question what their metrics and methods were. In this case, I believe my own observations over those of the study...at least with the population on my radar screen these days--US university students.
The larger population may indeed reflect the findings of the study as well the Pew study
full pdf here: http://www.pewinternet.org/pdfs/PIP_ICT_Typology.pdf
-JG
(image source: http://flickr.com/photos/inju/)

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Jing & Springdoo: a couple helpful little tools.

Ok, so I bookmarked these tools (Jing and Springdoo) some time ago, with the intent of looking into them more closely down the road when I had more time (as I am prone to do) . The last couple days I actually got around to investigating them more closely...and now am wondering how I lasted so long without them. This is definitely NOT a case of the-tool-creating-the-need. These are simple, low threshold capabilities/services/tools that I have wanted and been looking for... for ages--speaking in terms of I-time (Internet time).

Jing is a screen capture tool (picture or video, with or without audio). I can't count the times that I've wanted to be able to SHOW my students how to do something, or solve a problem, but have not had a SIMPLE way of facilitating this form of communication. Screencapture tools of various flavors have been around forever, but have often been tied to specific media players or platforms, and were cumbersome to create, share and view. My classes have always attracted mac and PC users, and making a single file to make everyone happy was usually more work than it was worth. Jing simplifies this process tremendously for me. Now when students have a question...I can either record a quick response rather than spending my time on the phone describing the solution, or on IM/email typing out the answers in text and attaching screen grabs. When the next student comes along with the same question, I can gently direct them to the same screencapute viewable online (hosted on screencast.com). Again, nothing new here technologically speaking, but it is the EASE with which I can now record, narrate and share a screencast that is unparalleled and has solved a long-standing challenge I've struggled with.

Springdoo is a service/application that allows you to EASILY record audio (or video) from a cell phone or webpage, giving you embed tags or links to put the audio in your blog, email, webpage, IM etc. The output, like many services out there, is also flash media. I like their service (SpringBlog) because compared to others I found it easier to use, and the player, when embedded, was less annoying or ad-driven than some of the others can be. Interestingly, the also have a pocasting feature (SpringCast) and embeddable code to host your podcast and allow audio/video replies to your original post. Posts (and the replies) can be easily subscribed to and also sent to phones (UK only right now) and iTunes or other podcast managers. I was a bit disappointed to see that the replies lacked linkage back to the sender's profile--and did not include the senders profile pic. I was however, pleased to see the audio thread embed so nicely in my LMS or VLE.
Note, like many sites, free hosting space is limited, so if you're going to get into this heavily, consider paying for the pro accounts, or be sure you can delete a semesters work (to free up space) before you start over for your next class...and yes, these sites require yet another login.

For a couple similar and promising tools for more threaded audio/video discussions, consider Chinswing or Viddler (i.e. think language instruction) or even VoiceThread (i.e. think portfolio and project review)--each takes a different approach to creating media-rich discussion in the online environment.

Let me know how you think you might use these tools.
-JG

Monday, August 06, 2007

Alternatives to Second Life

An interesting article on alternatives to Second Life. I'm disturbed somewhat about the divide(s) within SL. I'm not sure what it all means for education and if stuff-based identity is all so bad, but the SL system, and the SL culture seems to push such distinctions (I have wings, hair, clothes etc. that you don't) that don't seem to further healthy education from a larger perspective. SL certainly encourages exploration, but it seems so geared toward acquiring stuff--not just so you have it, but so you have stuff others don't. Again, no one has to participate in these activities, but SL IMHO seems built around stuff-gathering. I haven't tried or investigated all the alternatives listed in the article, but more open-source alternatives appear toward the bottom.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Simple tools--removing technology from the picture


I read a post this evening from a blog I follow. The post simply marked a 3-yr blogging milestone for the author (Cole Camplese). I thought that was in itself fairly impressive to me since I've only been blogging more seriously for a few months. Upon reviewing my first post, I was surprised to see, however, that this month will mark my 2nd year blogging...where I stopped deleting my old test posts or posts I felt were dumb (I set up my Blogger account over 4 years ago on Feb 22, 2003)

Cole made a point about how blogging (setting up an account and publishing a thought) was so beautifully simple--a three step process. It made me think back to when I started. I recall vividly feeling some of the same thoughts! No html, no ftp, no transferring a web page, no hassle, no need to make it pretty (nice starter templates provided)--just type and publish! Simplicity isn't enough, and it wasn't until this year that I felt I had something to say and actually started blogging more regularly. I continue to seek this simplicity when designing tools, consulting with faculty and in teaching my students. I'm delighted to see more and more tools (many of the web 2.0 variety) that reflect the same simplicity (and then I got a movable type blogging account...grrrr).

A recent favorite of mine is Viddler (http://www.viddler.com/) . Since 1996, I've been building, designing or just dreaming about such tools--think YouTube with rich media annotation and commenting tie-able to specific frames within the video. I teach video classes, so this has been a long-desired tool--a cross-platform way to share and talk about instructional video...in an uncomplicated way. The pieces have existed for years, but have been tied to Quicktime or another format only, or to a mac or PC only--I can go on and on about the limitations for end-users. Viddler has succeeded in taking the technology out of the picture for most users, allowing us to concentrate on communication around and with the media. I can't wait to use the tool the next time I teach my class (of course, RSS and tagging come standard).

Yet as simple as tools are (seem to be), I was starkly reminded this week of a parallel reality for too many. A colleague (teacher) was trying to learn how to podcast this week (on a PC). Audacity (http://audacity.sourceforge.net/) was downloaded and installed easily enough for her, but then getting the necessary Lame mp3 codec (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/LAME) turned out to be quite a bear. Similarly, so many (non-mp3) podcasts fail to open on PCs even with iTunes installed. There are (no good!) reasons and work-arounds, but it can be so frustrating for the un-initiated who are trying so hard to learn new skills, and or those of us trying to support their initiation them and help them have a sucessful experience.

Despite these lingering challenges, I remain encouraged and optimistic about the simplicity of many new tools. The underlying technology for creating, sharing and communicating around content is, to my great pleasure, being removed from the picture...now if they'd just remain free, stay in business, and not be so successful in attracting the basest of what humanity can produce. I know, I ask too much.
-Joel G.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Faculty Development (2.0?) in the Age of Creation

Moving Faculty Development out of the Information Age and into the Age of Creativity

Daniel Pink writes (wired, 2005):
...the curtain is rising on a new era, the Conceptual Age. If the Industrial Age was built on people's backs, and the Information Age on people's left hemispheres, the Conceptual Age is being built on people's right hemispheres. We've progressed from a society of farmers to a society of factory workers to a society of knowledge workers. And now we're progressing yet again - to a society of creators and empathizers, pattern recognizers, and meaning makers.
Ok, so may be we're beating the "2.0" suffix into the ground, but that aside, this
quote nicely adresses the change in education (and necessarily faculty development) that I've blogged about in numerous other posts on Edusign.

FacDev 2.0
There's a great post on professional development 2.0 that surfaced on my radar from a couple different venues. (this may indicate that I'm either consistant in my interests, or not casting my net broadly enough.)
Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach describes in nice detail a recent 3-day PD2.0 workshop she put on in NY for educators. What I found inspiring about her post was the range of experiences she engineered for the workshop participants: wikis, blogs, commenting, creative commons, VOIP, virtual speed dating (read her post for more on that), Elluminate, Twitter.

I got fatigue just thinking about the planning and coordination that must have gone in to it, but was simultaneously envigorated with great ideas. This is the kind of thing that I too want to do with my faculty devlopment work at the university level. Her workshop looks like it was a great success, and importantly, didn't simply look like a series of "look-what-you-can-do-on-the-internet" product demos. Check out her original post.

Sustaining Faculty Development
Faculty Development efforts need to look more like Sheryl's workshop, but learners must then be sustained and supported as they implement--possibly months later. An on-going virtual learning community is critical for faculty as they practice and gain the new literacies and skills for the age of creativity (create, connect, communicate, evaluate)--or in Pink's words, we become "empathizers, pattern recognizers, and meaning makers".

While only one piece of the facdev puzzle, I'm still kicking around the technologies that best support a more participatory and sustained faculty community (and I don't think the technological issues are trivial here!). I've joined groups in the past using technology that was simply too cumbersome to use-despite my desire to stay involved. I've also seen sites with bucket-loads of teaching/learning resources (which seems very "information age"), lacking the connections of a healthy community.
Drupal or Ning may be the answer (some have even suggested Facebook which may already carry too much "baggage" for many faculty). I'm also impressed with the Pedestal project which brings up people, resources and blogs related to one's search.

I'd love to get comments on great faculty devlopment sites (experiences) you've encountered that reflect the move from the information age to the age of creativity.
-Joel G.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Digital natives, information literacy and a skills gap?

The New Media Consortium's 2007 Horizon Report is a very interesting read (at least hit the executive summary!). A couple claims they make about student skills and literacies resonated with me as I read (from different sections of the report):

1) There is a skills gap between understanding how to use tools for media creation and how to create meaningful content. Although new tools make it increasingly easy to produce multimedia works, students lack essential skills in composition, storytelling, and design. In addition, faculty need curricula that adapt to the pace of change and that teach the skills that will be needed—even though it is not clear what all those skills may be.

2) Information literacy increasingly should not be considered a given. Contrary to the conventional wisdom, the information literacy skills of new students are not improving as the post-1993 Internet boomlet enters college. At the same time, in a sea of user-created content, collaborative work, and instant access to information of varying quality, the skills of critical thinking, research, and evaluation are increasingly required to make sense of the world.
I've made an interesting observation with both my 12 and 14 year old daughters, my older nephews, and many of their friends with whom I have some Facebook or other social network contact. They all seem surprisingly computer illiterate...despite their amazing keyboard skills, and hours on computers--"Oh, there's a calculator on here?" or "how do I attach that file?" or "Dad, the computer's not working" (when only the wireless switch was turned off--as if the Internet IS the computer...OK, I'll give them that one).

Perhaps more to the point of the Horizon Report claim #1, I see them viewing, sharing, remixing, and even creating photos, videos, music with each other with either no aesthetic quality, or even less purpose, message or meaning. Sure, not everything has to be deep and poignant, but this stuff adds up to heaps of material posted to YouTube, Facebook, Flickr etc. that is really senseless material--outside of just wanting to publish/share something and get a reaction from friends (no sense watching more than 30 seconds of this example close to home).

Admittedly, I have undergraduate degrees in photography and film, spent years creating video and media professionally, and have been teaching media courses for the last 4 years. Yes, I probably have higher expectations than some (and wish my kids would have picked up a thing or two), but I as I have repeatedly seen in the classes I teach, for most people, access to technology and skills with the tools alone does not ensure the creation of meaningful content. (with some amazing exceptions to the rule out there--where young kids have created and shared some very beautiful and compelling work).

Is this akin to phenomena of days gone by?--have we seen this before with word processors, wysiwyg html editors, and handheld camcorders (and blogs) for example? Every Tom, Jane and Hari with new tools excitedly creates material and eventually either gives up, or hopefully learns and improves. The difference perhaps now is how easy it is for Tom, Jane and Hari to parade their drivel (or masterpieces!) in front of the world's eyes--which is where claim #2 on information literacy becomes critical. I don't think kids are learning enough info literacy in schools.
I think I'm part part of the solution in closing the gap of both claims (both as a parent and instructor). I'm currently significantly revising my online course (for educators) which will also be renamed from "Video and Hypermedia in the Classroom" to "Instructional Media in a Digital Age" pending approval. The title is maybe a bit tacky, but the revised course is going to be a creating, sharing, connecting , tagging (web 2.0) blast, focused on meaningful, purposeful content. I can't wait to teach my new version in January. We also spend time in class (but not enough) on information and media literacy--learning to evaluate and appreciate the media we encounter.

I wonder what others experiences are. Is "information literacy" a legacy term part of a dying system that says experts and expert viewpoints exist? Do we need to be teaching people how to create "meaningful content", or do we simply let "meaningful" be what either the creator and/or consumer make of it?
-Joel G.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Mashups, Remixes & Education: Is it outright copyright infringement?


An interesting article from Brian Lamb on Mashups and Remixes in education. I agreed with the bulk of his views, but was reminded of the danger of terminology. I'd venture to say that in many cases, mashups and remixes are outright plagerism, and/or theft of others' IP and creative work. In education we need to take care that we not lul ourselves into thinking or teaching that it's all ok by simply calling it by another, hipper, trendier name (i.e. "it's not copying or duplication--it's a mashup or a remix").
Doug Johnson writes:

Intellectual-property issues on Web 2.0, where students are producers of information, are somewhat different. This generation of producers often views others’ creative work as raw material for their own expressions. The term mashup is commonly used to describe a montage of digital works, especially music and video, that have been edited and mixed to create a unique creative product. The use of others’ work is regarded not as theft or plagiarism, but homage to the originator, and sites such as YouTube make sharing these creations simple and inexpensive. Guidelines for the use of copyrighted works in this fashion are unclear and routinely ignored by many when creating mashups.

Admittedly, there is increasingly more material out there with open licensing, but just because some have opened up their work for free use (myself included), most still have not. Luckily, both Yahoo and Google now facilitate advanced searches using filters that only display material with creative commons (more open) licensing.

Anyway, read and enjoy this interesting Educause Review article by Brian Lamb.

Dr. Mashup; or, Why Educators Should Learn to Stop Worrying and Love the Remix
[EDUCAUSE Review, vol. 42, no. 4 (July/August 2007): 12–25]
(photo:http://flickr.com/photos/funksoup/)
-Joel G.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Winds of Change 2

An interesting video on the changing educational landscape by Karl Fischer (it's been around for a year, but it was new to me)...It makes my thinker sore.
-Joel G.



Original video link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pMcfrLYDm2U

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Winds of Change--is faculty development lagging?

A couple short USA Today articles (from 2006!) that describe the changing student demographics at universities.
The first describes student networking (MySpace, Facebook) and how new incoming students use such tools to find out about prospective schools, and more about the schools they'll be attending. Universities would be wise to proactively be in this space.
This next article simply outlines some of the new characteristics of the incoming digital native student.
I question how much universities have done, and how much they are doing to address this trend...it's now been a year since these articles were published. Penn State (where I am currently) appears to be doing a number of things indicating they are taking this change seriously. Though infrastructure/technology change is an important part of the picture, it is only part of the solution. There's a lot (even more) work to be done with our faculty (with notable exceptions) to meet student needs, and help keep their education and training relevant to society's needs.
-Joel G.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

An alternate voice on all this innovation...

David Snowden's presentation (17:00 min) is sensible, and provides an alternative (but not luddite) view to the prevailing "throw-caution-to-the-wind-ramming-speed!-you're-either-with-us-or-irrelevant" view of the changing education landscape. His message (part of the Future of Education online confererence 2007) is that social comuting/networks and associated web20 tools are all good and powerful, BUT they have some imporant downsides for education and societies. He also discusses briefly "nodal networks" strength over "social networks".
http://ltc.umanitoba.ca/foe-2007/Dave_Snowden/
The first 17 minutes is his presentation, and then there's some Q/A which is also pretty good.
-Joel G.

Article: Pedagogoical affordances of syndication, aggregation, and mash-up of content

An article titled "Pedagogical affordances of syndication, aggregation, and mash-up of content on the Web", by Barbara Dieu and Vance Stevens.
Though the article focuses on ESL/EFL learning, it's got some good ideas and is itself is a good example of a multimedia text that requires (or at least takes advantage of) some multiliteracies.
http://tesl-ej.org/ej41/int.html
-Joel Galbraith

Monday, July 02, 2007

Conducting a Ed-Tech vanity search

A couple years ago , I began a making a list of things I've experienced in life that help shape who I am today. (I'm sure as an avoidance tactic to keep from working on my graduate schoolwork)

I share here the "education" and "technology" -related piece of my still-growing list...(I do NOT claim to be an expert on most of this by any means). These are simply technologies I have used, or things I have experienced. It is a fun activity--a form of vanity search, tantamount to Googling your brain for the search term: me*technology*education--and I'd heartily recommend the exercise (especially if you've got a looming deadline or project to put off).

You'll likely amaze yourself with all you've done in life so far, how privileged you are, and with how quickly (educational) technology changes! I was/and still am!

___________________________________
THE LIST

Education (school andteaching experiences)
-I have taught and team-taught university courses (online, face-to-face)
-I have taken asynchronous correspondence courses (print, web)
-Participated in synchronous Distance Learning Tele-lectures (satellite, Internet hi-band, web-based--PictureTel, Vtel)
-I have attended schools in Israel/Palestine, Holland, and the USA
-I have attended a Montessori school, have experienced homeschool, private school, public school, Catholic kindergarten, Anglican Church school, Private University (Brigham Young University)
-2 years as a teaching missionary in Switzerland, Germany and Austria (German language)
-I have attended two intensive, immersion language training programs
-I have had formal music instruction in Trumpet, Tuba, Guitar, Contra-base Clarinet, Piano and Organ.
-I have been trained in scouting, and likewise trained young scouters
-I have guest lectured in university courses, conducted faculty training workshops
-I have had numerous church teaching opportunities (young adult and youth Sunday school)
-I completed an associates degree (photography), B.A. (Film), and Masters (Technology Education), I am currently finishing a Ph.D. (Instructional Systems, PSU)
-I have attended numerous professional development and HR workshops (Covey Leadership, Stanford Institute Project Management)
-I have attended and presented at professional conferences (state and national)
-I have visited a one-room Amish school, and observing teaching and instructional materials.

Technology & Media (non-computer related)
-I have dealt with the following film formats: 8mm, Super 8, 16mm, 35mm , 70mm film cameras (loaded, threaded, cleaned, filmed, edited)
-I have dealt with the following film projectors: 8mm, 16mm film, 35mm projectors (splicing/editing, playback, threading)
-I have played, recorded and edited with the following video formats: Betamax, VHS, SVHS, 3/4 "U-matic, 1", Betacam SP, video8, Hi8, minidv, DVCpro, DVD-video
-I have videotaped with many professional camcorders (Sony, JVC, Panasonic, Ikegami, digital (dsp), and analog)
-I have used, edited and masterered numerous videodiscs (levels 1 and 2), Recordable Videodisc (CRV) Sony, Pioneer.
-I have used the shortllived CD-I (interactive) format from Pioneer.
-I have worked with the following photography media: transparencies, negative, darkroom, 35mm, Medium format (Hasselblad, Mamiya) Large format (4x5, 8x10) Color, B&W
-I am a trained Steadicam operator (used with 16mm film, DVC-pro, Betacam and MiniDV cameras)
-I have used film strips (usually with cassette tape-manual. The advance-on-tone variety)
-Used slide projectors and developed multi-projector (up to 3) presentations (with synchronized audio and control tracks) (This format was considered the original "multimedia")
-Have worked on numerous film production crews (Documentary, Television and Theatrical release)
-Am familiar with and have used a host of professional audio equipment (microphones, speakers, headphones, mixers, routers and patch bays): Audio Technica, Shure, Sennheiser, Telex, Pro-tools, MOTU, Yamaha, Motorola, GLM, Denon, Peavey, Mackie, Sony, AKG, JBL, Tascam, Nakamichi, SierraVideo Systems, Kramer, Marantz.
-Photography (Aerial (sea-plane, helicopter), Terrestrial (in, on, under many moving vehicles) & Underwater)
-Chalk (dust free, regular, natural) Chalkboards (green, black, brown, handheld slates, wall mounted, painted)
-Whiteboards (electronic, copyable, projected, pressure sensitive, networked.)
-I have used and/or recorded with: Audio cassette recorders, 8 track player, Audio-CD , DAT, Minidisc, adat, Record (vinyl) turntables-phonographs (33, 45, 78 speeds) single and multi-platter versions
-I have experiences with reel to reel audio (splicing, playback, threading)
-Flip charts (handheld, easel mounted, Post-it variety)
-I have used the following environment controllers in "electronic" classrooms (Crestron, AMP)

Technology and Media (computer-related)
-Computer platforms/OS (Sinclair, Atari 800, Commodore 64, Apple, Mac--OSX, Wintel--Dos, Win 3.1, Win 9x, Win 2k, ME, XP) -Digital media formats (Mpeg 1,2,4,7, avi, wav, aiff, au, wmv, rm, ra, mov, mp3, swf)
-Group response systems (Onetouch, Fleetwood, Group Systems)
-Electronic slides (Presentations, Powerpoint, Astound)
-Synchronous Distance Learning Tele-lectures (satellite, web-based, Internet hi-band--PictureTel, Vtel)
-Video streaming, (broadcast and Interactive w/chat)--(QT, Flash, Real, Windows media, Vivo, Vxtreme, Geo)
-DVD-Video, DV-ROM-web hybrid
-Authoring systems (Authorware, Toolbook, Flash) Multimedia CD
-Avatars, VRML (3d spaces)
-I have helped develop PDA courses (Palm, Pocket PC, Trivantis)
-Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game (MMORPG, MMOG) (There, Second Life, World of Warcraft)
-I have accounts in the following Social Networtk sites: Facebook, Linked-in, Orkut, Friendster (chose to stay out of MySpace)
-3D rooms (BYU, PSU "caves")
-Variable speed Playback VSP (Enounce)
-Whiteboard, electronic, copyable, projected, pressure sensitive, networked.
-Synchronized media (Mpeg-4, Real, Windows Media, Flash, Director, QT)
-Computer Supported Collaboration technologies (Elluminate, Netmeeting, Centra, Interwise, Webex, HorizonLive-Wimba, Placeware, Paltalk, Groove, Atinav, iChat, and many others)
-Simulations (virtual chemlab)
-Media search (Pictron, Virage, Excaliber, Google video, MediaSite)
-Asset management and digital library products (Bulldog, MediaSite, Jaguar, Content DM, Hyperion, TeleScope, Silver Platter
-Non Linear Editors (NLE) (D/Vision, Avid, Premiere, Toaster, Play, FAST, Final Cut, iMovie, Windows MovieMaker)
-Immersive, networked gaming (World of Warcraft, Delta Force, Doom, Wolfenstein 3D, Pod racer), (Other: Command & Conquer, Age of Empires)
-I have used the following data backup systems: SyQuest (various capacities), Quantum DLT 4000-8000, Iomega
-I am familiar with, and have had (to attempt) to design for SCORM, IMS, AICC compliance (learning objects, media objects)
-I have used the following LMS, CMS and LCMS products: Blackboard, WebCT, Angel, Moodle, NYU Online, Lectora, Topclass, Learningspace, FirstClass, Click2Learn, Avaltus, Playback Media, Skillsoft, Tegrity and others

-I have maintained and/or used Blogs, Wikis, Podcasts, regular html websites

-I have used RSS feeds to distribute and aggragate online content.

-I have posted and shared photos and video online (Flickr, Picasaweb, Googlevideo, YouTube)

Other Technology
-Global Positioning System receiver (GPSr) devices--handheld and automotive from (Lowrance, Garmin, Magellan & Cobra)
-Gestetner, stat machine, mimeograph (still remember the smell of purple acetone), ditto machine, photocopiers
-Word Processor (Word, (Corel)Wordperfect, Apple/Claris works, Star Office Writer)
-Overhead projector, LCD projector
-Post-it sheets (various colors and sizes, easel pads)
-Chalk (dust free, regular, natural) Chalkboards (green, black, brown, handheld slates, wall mounted, painted)

-Typewriter (manual and electric front strikes, and "IBM selectric", with and without correction strips, two-color ribbons)
-I've used Carbon copy paper
-Telex machine, facsimile machine
-PDAs (Palm OS, Pocket PC)

Other Experiences
-Facility design (Sound design, studio design, school design, classroom design)
-I am a Christian, Father, Husband, Son, Grandson, Brother, Neighbor, Friend, Student, Foreigner (Canadian), Teacher, learner.
-White, Male
-I scuba dive (not in years), ski (not very well), snowboard (ok)

-I have attended most of the following (inter)national conferences more than once: NAB (National Association of Broadcasters), IBC (International Broadcasting Convention), TeleCon, Online Learning, ALN (Sloan-C), AERA, AECT, EdMedia, SALT, IDLCON (International Distance Learning Conference) now E-Learning, TechED. _______________________________________

I imagine many of you have had similarly rich experiences with technology and education. The list continues to be added to, and I still need to come up with a better categorization scheme...Any ideas?

-Joel Galbraith

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Education and the future...a trends map

Here's an interesting site (interactive data map) that looks at trends in education and society..."A map of future forces changing education". I'm not quite sure how to read it, but it looks like it is worth investigating and there is a demo which may help understand how to use it better.
http://www.kwfdn.org/map/map.aspx
-Joel G.

Hanging on for the ride...changes in education

Related to a few of my earlier posts, this great presentation addresses why we might embrace, rather than fear the Web 2.o dragon.

The presenter, quotes an Irish university IT director, Michael Nowlan, as saying his mantra is now "Yes before no; allow before disallow; open rather than closed". This could be an approach for any director, designer or educator and is all about letting go of control–-control of content, control of interaction, control of learning, control of power, control of the environment, control of the future.

Yikes! Scarey indeed, but I've been starting to adopt that position myself on a number of decisions already and am starting to feel the anxieties and excitment knowing that the roller coaster has left the station, and there's no turning back now! I do reserve the right to step off the roller coaster at the end of this run, and also make no guarantees that my stomach can handle it (i.e. the experience for some of those closest to me may not be very pleasant).

"Only fools rush in" you say?! Agreed! But for me, I proceed cautiously. This is calculated risk and a move that has already shown early personal benefits.
-Joel G.






(available from:http://www.slideshare.net/lisbk/web-20-opportunity-or-threat-for-it-support-staff)

Thursday, June 14, 2007

New literacies in Education...

I came across another great blog post that addresses this idea of new literacies and basics in education that I've been contemplating lately. The original post is very long, and covers a lot of ground on Moodle as an example. I'm presenting wholesale-size swaths of the original post by Miguel Guhlin because it is done so well--but I want to editorial rights, and don't care too much about moodle right now.
(photo by fotologic)
_________________________________
New Literacies Jun 13, 2007 (yesterday)
from Techlearning blog by Miguel Guhlin

How we read, write, and communicate has changed. This is an earth-shattering truth for people in any walk of life, but even more critical for educators to grasp. It is critical because educators are the ones charged with preparing children for the future. The prevalence of the Internet forces these changes in what our definition of what constitutes literacy in our world today. Moodle, a course management system, can provide a solution that can be used to maximize the impact of new literacies while helping educators survive this 21st Century earthquake.

New literacies include--as defined by Leu, Mallette, Karchmer, and Kara-Soteriou in their 2005 book, Innovative Approaches to Literacy Education-- the following:

...the skills, strategies and dispositions necessary to successfully exploit the rapidly changing ICTs continuously emerging in our world for personal growth, pleasure and work. These new literacies allow us to use the Internet and other iCTs to identify important problems, locate information, analyze the usefulness of that information, synthesize information to solve problems, and communicate the solutions to others.
In addition, citing Bloom's Revised Taxonomy, being able to create using these new literacies is of essence. In fact, it is not enough to be able to evaluate web sites, synthesize information, but important that we able to create and craft compelling narratives--digital stories--that encompass, as George Lucas shares, the "language of images and sound." Text is no longer enough, and new literacies require a level of fluency that teachers today have not yet grasped systemically in K-16 education. For people everywhere, these are defining literacies that must be learned. You either learn them, or risk a profound disconnect from the world.

In fact, many teachers, parents, administrators may be--dramatically--groaning in fear, gnashing their teeth at the need for new literacies. They see that the Internet, as its ubiquity increases, as it becomes an ever-changing tool molding itself to the mind of its users, now forces reading, writing and communication to be as changeable as the technology it is dependent upon.
The connection between reading, writing, communication and new literacies is multi-modal, engaging everyone as learners as a result of its constant, transformative nature. Multiple modalities go beyond traditional ways of communicating--such as pen and paper, keyboard and mouse--to combine old literacies with new ones. This results in increased usability, increased experience that engages learners.

The connection is also multi-directional, involving not just one or two people, but a global community networked together. As Don Tapscott and Anthony D. Williams write in their book Wikinomics, mass collaboration changes everything.' Mass collaboration involves peer production, people partnering together to create content, remix it in ways specific to their situation yet useful to others connected via a worldwide network.

As new technologies emerge, how can any one "new literacy" be used to keep up with another? In other words, how can we use technology to help us keep up with the changes brought about technology?...New literacies require us to better prepare ourselves and our students for a future where survival requires everyday technology use.
_______________________________
Again, this is not my writing, but that of Miguel Guhlin--retrieved Jun 13, 2007 (yesterday) from Techlearning blog. I share his words because he says clearly, what I'm thinking.

-Joel D. Galbraith

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Sticking to Basics--part 2

A great post related to my earlier "back to basics" post with a couple equally interesting links. The original can be found here .
-Joel G.

Thoughts on “Out of Our Minds: Learning to Be Creative” by Ken RobinsonPublished by Jessica Draper June 13th, 2007 in Shop Talk

Ken Robinson argues in Out of Our Minds: Learning to Be Creative that the world is changing rapidly, due in large part to technological advances, and that the old-fashioned style of “logico-deductive” education simply cannot meet the needs of the rapidly arriving future. The future, in his view, demands a new vision and effective use of human resources—specifically, the urgent need for creativity in all areas of education, culture, and business.
He defines creativity as “imaginative processes with [real-world] outcomes that are original and of value.” This process is the key to thriving amid the rapid and radical changes in modern culture—and the even more rapid and radical changes to come.
Some of these changes have already weakened the traditional view of education and employment; having a university degree is no longer a guarantee of either getting or keeping a job. Employers, he says, “want people who can think intuitively, who are imaginative and innovative, who can communicate well, work in teams and are flexible, adaptable and self-confident. The traditional academic curriculum is simply not designed to produce such people.”
The good news is that anyone can be creative under the right conditions. Robinson argues that creativity is not either/or, not just for certain people or disciplines; instead, “real creativity comes from finding your medium, from being in your element.” It is “a dynamic process that draws on many different areas of a person’s experience and intelligence.” It is also a cultural process, arising “out of our interactions with ideas and achievements of other people.”
So, how can education help train these creative, flexible, innovative people? Robison strongly advocates various reforms (reuniting arts and sciences, abandoning the IQ-based conception of intelligence, and others), but his keys to promoting creativity (in education and in business) are:
Encouraging risk-taking and experimentation.
Creating interdisciplinary associations, breaking down the barrier between art and science.
Harnessing creativity, encouraging and acting on ideas and creative solutions.
Obviously, any of these things is much easier to say than to actually do in the real world. (This is where grand visions in education-reform books tend to founder—it’s harder to come up with specific techniques and recommendations than general principles.)
On the subject of reducing the risks that stifle experimentation, however, a couple of ideas did bubble up as I read the book. They’re based on the question posed in the parable of the fence or the ambulance: do you build a fence at the top of a dangerous cliff, or station an ambulance at the bottom? To reduce the negative consequences of failure as a learner explores a new topic, a combination of techniques seems promising.
First, the fence. When presenting a new subject, reduce the consequences of failure by providing the learners with the background, concepts, and guidelines they need to freely experiment. Nothing is so frustrating as having too wide a field and no idea at all about how to proceed. Giving the learners a defined “sandbox” and the tools to use in it changes confusion into purpose, and wandering into real exploration. Schools that follow Maria Montessori’s methods [http://www.webster.edu/~woolflm/montessori.html] provide just one example of fence-building technique: the children use tools and toys that let them freely explore and experiment, but they conduct those explorations and experiments within precisely defined structures and routines that are set up so that they can correct themselves when they begin to go off track. (For a humorous look at Montessori schools, see The Cult of the Pink Tower by Emily Bazelon.)
Second, the ambulance. If methods for preventing failure don’t work, the failure shouldn’t have such dire consequences that the students are afraid to experiment. Part of decreasing the consequences of failure is changing the focus of assignments and exercises from categorizing students (by score and grade) to assessing whether or not they actually know the material or can do the task—aiming for mastery rather than earning a score. Providing low-stakes, repeatable assignments with frequent, specific feedback, for example, lets students try, learn from their mistakes, and try again without worrying about a single failure permanently marring their academic record.
Of course, making those assessments relevant, interesting, and even fun is another challenge. Sounds like a job for creativity!
To see Ken Robinson talk about education and creativity, watch his speech at TED.

A Fence or an Ambulance (to embrace or resist)


I came across this now-famous poem in an a great and insightful blog post (by Jessica draper)this morning and immensely enjoyed the clever script. I've long been aware of the analogy--having cited it frequently myself, but don't recall ever having read the entire original text, nor known its origin/author. So here without further ado, I give you "A Fence or an Ambulance"


A Fence or an Ambulance
Joseph Malins (1895)

'Twas a dangerous cliff, as they freely confessed,
Though to walk near its crest was so pleasant;
But over its terrible edge there had slipped
A duke and full many a peasant.
So the people said something would have to be done,
But their projects did not at all tally;
Some said, "Put a fence 'round the edge of the cliff,"
Some, "An ambulance down in the valley."

But the cry for the ambulance carried the day,
For it spread through the neighboring city;
A fence may be useful or not, it is true,
But each heart became full of pity
For those who slipped over the dangerous cliff;
And the dwellers in highway and alley
Gave pounds and gave pence, not to put up a fence,
But an ambulance down in the valley.

"For the cliff is all right, if your careful," they said,
"And, if folks even slip and are dropping,
It isn't the slipping that hurts them so much
As the shock down below when they're stopping."
So day after day, as these mishaps occurred,
Quick forth would those rescuers sally
To pick up the victims who fell off the cliff,
With their ambulance down in the valley.

Then an old sage remarked: "It's a marvel to me
That people give far more attention
To repairing results than to stopping the cause,
When they'd much better aim at prevention.
Let us stop at its source all this mischief," cried he,
"Come, neighbors and friends, let us rally;
If the cliff we will fence, we might almost dispense
With the ambulance down in the valley."

"Oh he's a fanatic," the others rejoined,
"Dispense with the ambulance? Never!
He'd dispense with all charities, too, if he could;
No! No! We'll support them forever.
Aren't we picking up folks just as fast as they fall?
And shall this man dictate to us? Shall he?
Why should people of sense stop to put up a fence,
While the ambulance works in the valley?"

But the sensible few, who are practical too,
Will not bear with such nonsense much longer;
They believe that prevention is better than cure,
And their party will soon be the stronger.
Encourage them then, with your purse, voice, and pen,
And while other philanthropists dally,
They will scorn all pretense, and put up a stout fence
On the cliff that hangs over the valley.

Better guide well the young than reclaim them when old,
For the voice of true wisdom is calling.
"To rescue the fallen is good, but 'tis best
To prevent other people from falling."
Better close up the source of temptation and crime
Than deliver from dungeon or galley;
Better put a strong fence 'round the top of the cliff
Than an ambulance down in the valley.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Sticking to Basics--part 1


Sticking to basics...which basics?


I came across this recent posting on another edublog and thought it was worthy of sharing (Read the original blog post here)


Maybe we don't have a problem with basics or Maybe our basics need to be upgraded.A few years ago, we sold our home when returning to school. One of the attractive selling points at the time was that my brother and I had installed the latest CAT 5 cable (for internet acess) in every room in the house (including the laundry room--who knows??). That CAT 5 cable served us very well for a few years and helped sell the house, but today I would not install it again in my home.

So...my point is, while we don't want students to walk into our course "home", see 90's "wallpaper", turn right around and head for the door, nor do we want/need to install bluetooth location awareness devices in every room (currently the buzz in home automation). [...however, we DO want to make sure we make the needed repairs in our courses, possibly repaint, fix the drips, repair that one dangerous step, patch that hole in the carpet...you get my drift]

As we look around us and see/hear vodcast, blog, gaming, wiki, second life, podcast, social networking, twitter, web 2.0, mLearning (mobile learning), and wonder if our "home" is up to par, let's stick to the basics in learning design. Let's focus on what these technologies enable, and how they facilitate learning within the context of our educational mission and responsibility.
At the same time, and what gave me pause in this article, is what today's basics for learners are/might be. Quoting another site (also worth reading) the author suggests today's learning basics are...

1. Be able to Connect
2. Be able to Create
3. Be able to Communicate
4. Be able to Collaborate

Are these the new basics??!
While I'm on a role here, let me suggest that my old (current?) basics used to be (and I hope you recognize these), to ensure my courses:

1. Gained learner attention
2. Informed learners of objectives
3. Stimulated recall of prior learning
4. Presented the content
5. Provided "learning guidance"
6. Elicited performance (practice)
7. Provided feedback
8. Assessed performance
9. Enhanced retention and transfer to the other contexts

Do our courses facilitate these new basics? Are these the new basics? What were the old basics? It seems to me that as designers, we should be able to answer some of these questions. Are we taking stock of what affordable upgrades our homes might need?
Read the original blog post here
-Joel G.

Monday, June 04, 2007

A great link (a collaborative DB) for educational technology related conferences. The site also lets you see different views of the data (chronological, geographical, list all).
http://edtechevents.dabbledb.com/publish/educatonaltechnologyconferencecalendar/821fc54f-0c3e-46ca-8681-3a46fd592c72/mainlisting.html?embed=true
If you know of some not listed, just add it in.
-Joel G.

Friday, May 25, 2007

A highly entertaining, but poignant talk by David Pogue (2006, TED) on simplicity that fails to permeate much of the technology we use or design. One of the best lines (for me) comes toward the end. Speaking primarily of hardware and software, but I feel is equally relevant to instruction and CONTENT, Pogue says...
"The hard part is not knowing what features to add, but deciding what to leave out!"
-Joel G.

An interesting slideshow (unfortunately no audio) with a more realistic viewpoint on Web 2.0 in education that some propose.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Tuttle writes an interesting post on YouTube tagging.
_______________
YouTube Stuff- Tagging it so Others Can Find it
When you post your YouTube video, please make sure to tag it with the major tag of Education; the subject area (Social Studies); the critical aspect of the standard (contributions of various groups); the specifics (Irish building the Erie Canal); and the general grade levels (4-11). Add any other tags that would help educators and students to find it such as Canal Songs, and Westward expansion, and New York State.
The better you tag it, the better other teachers and students can benefit from your efforts and your students’ learning.
We can make YouTube (and other YouTube like places) an educational repository of all our educational videos that are made by teachers and students for teachers and students.
So what tags have you used with your YouTube instructional videos?
___________________

Another interesting link is: http://www.teachertube.com

-Joel G.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

A cute video on fair use and copyright--cleverly done...A Fair(y) Use Tale


A perennial problem in education and online instruction.

Friday, May 18, 2007

10 Questions for designing media for instruction and learning
  1. What is the educational need, problem or gap for which use of the new media might enhance learning?
  2. Would the application of new media help assess prior knowledge?
  3. Would the application of new media enhance students’ organization of information—given that organization determines retrieval and flexible use?
  4. Would the application of new media actively engage students in purposeful practice that promotes deeper learning or automaticity (where desired). This, so that students focus on underlying principles, theories and models and processes, not superficial features of problems?
  5. Would the application of new media help provide frequent, timely and constructive feedback and guidance?
  6. Would the application of new media help learners develop proficiency they need to acquire new skills of selective monitoring, evaluating and adjusting their learning strategies (Self-regulated learning strategies, or metacognitive skills)?
  7. Would the application of new media adjust to students’ individual differences and increasingly diverse educational backgrounds and abilities?
  8. Would the application of new media increase cost or logistical efficiencies in the instruction?
  9. How would the application of new media promote a learning- or learner-centered instructional approach?
  10. How would the application of new media address motivational or attitudinal aspects of learning?

    Adapted by Joel Galbraith.
    Original source: Joel M. Smith & Susan Ambrose (June 2004). The “Newest Media” and a principled approach to for integrating technology into instruction. Syllabus Magazine

I came across an earlier unpublished article of mine ther other day. It deals with things I've been working with lately (blended learning) and so I thought I'd post it. It should be edited to pull out justy the main points, but I just don't have the time right now... so here it is in verbose form...
-JG
Mainstreaming Distance Education: A Case of Identity Theft or Validation?
Joel D. Galbraith
4/18/2003

Introduction:
Distance Education is still relevant in the United States, but must evolve and adapt to remain so. Where we go next and what issues face the field in the United States is the [decidedly ethnocentric, myopic] topic of this paper. The paper will cover the issues of four areas deemed to be especially relevant to the field of distance education: Policy, Pedagogy, Technology and Administration.

Definition:
Distance Education is planned learning that normally occurs in a different place from teaching and as a result requires special techniques of course design, special instructional techniques, special methods of communication by electronic and other technology, as well as special organizational and administrative arrangements. (Moore & Kearsley, 1996, p.2)

Background:
An important demographic change is being reported in the field of distance education (DE). DE offerings are no longer for only for the “nontraditional” student. Increasingly, dual-mode institutions are experiencing a hybridization of their offerings as fully matriculated, campus-based students account for a large share of DE enrollments. (Dillon & Greene, 2003; Cookson, 2002; Waddoups & Howell, 2002; Bleed, 2001; WBEC, 2000; Guernsey, 1998; Wallace, 1996) The author has chosen to frame the paper around this topic of changing demographics, as it raises many of the current issues facing distance education.

Related to this demographic shift or diversification is a mainstreaming effect, referring to an ever narrowing gap between the practices of distance and on-campus education due largely to the increasing campus adoption of online course management systems (CMS) like Blackboard, Angel, WebCT as well as a host of other similar systems employed in corporate environments. These CMSs are used to post course materials, readings, syllabi, facilitate online discussions, administer and grade tests, and in many instances, completely eliminate face to face encounters—even on campus. At least two major universities are taking steps to consolidate their traditionally distinct student populations into a single CMS platform. Mainstreaming has also led to conceptual confusion that exists in the broader field (Saba, 2002)

Clearly, the lines between DE and campus education are becoming very blurry in the United States. Physical distance is no longer the de-facto defining characteristic of the field, despite Moore’s 1993 explication of a theory of Transactional Distance. Moore introduced the notion that distance was as much a function of interaction and structure levels as it was of proximity. It is hence, quite surprising that the definition of DE provided by the United States Distance Learning Association (USDLA, 2003), still sets geographic location as the defining characteristic of distance education and learning.

An unplanned “black market” (Javons, 1990; Wallace, 1996) has developed of independent study enrollers by traditional urban students. Today, it is entirely plausable that two students seated side-by-side in a computer lab could be in the same online DE course with their professor just down the hall and not “know” one another. In a course for which the author was the instructional designer, two students went home for the summer (one overseas), but arranged with their faculty to “attend” class online via the CMS. They both received full credit as if on campus. The department was effectively running an unauthorized distance education program independent of the university’s knowledge. When approached, the faculty simply responded “what’s the difference if they come to class or not, all our activities and materials are online?” Professors and students alike are awakening to such new conditions for learning or “new learning spaces” as defined by Otto Peters (2000a).

At issue here is a tremendous array of policy, pedagogical, technological and administrative concerns. This convergence can very directly impact the following areas of administrative services, course and curriculum design, institutional goals, mission statements and structures, resource allocation, faculty and student roles, assessment, student support services, department collaboration (Waddoups and Howell, 2002) Some of these will be addressed in the following pages.

Policy Issues:
As institutions relax existing policies (like classroom seat-time) in an effort to explore alternative models, continuing education (CE) and distance education administrators would do well to pay close attention and be part of the change process. The marginal status of many of their units increases the risk that they may not be as central to the institutional planning process as they’d like to be (Wallace, 1999).

The “black market” alluded to previously, has largely been ignored with no institutional prohibition against such use, perhaps due to resident program arrogance. What's more, there has been little in the way of planned or purposeful efforts to serve of this population, or evaluate their needs. (Wallace, 1996) CE and DE administrators at dual mode universities might express displeasure with the potentially inequitable competition on-campus, quasi-DE practices promote within an organization. Do they remain silent because this market supports their own programs? Either way, now that parity is being realized between offerings and credit transfer problems diminishing, this unofficial “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy will not likely last.

What does this convergence mean for single mode DE institutions or the traditional CE and DE programs at dual mode institutions? Wallace (1999) writes that DE programs have long been associated with continuing education units due to their history with extension programming. This in turn has led to DE’s marginalization from the central mission of the university as it attended nearly exclusively to non-traditional students. Likewise, Wallace argues that practice has followed adult education models which may be now prove somewhat disenfranchising to younger, less autonomous DE students. In the eyes of many higher insitutionites, DE still represents a corporatized [read “for profit”] and industrial model, which is anathema to their idealized (but seldom reached) teaching-learning assumptions and values.”(Garrison, 2000)

In an effort to help counter such commonly held notions, Brigham Young University, for example, recently rearranged reporting lines within the university to have their DE unit report directly to the academic vice president reducing the boundaries between on and off campus. Similar institutional restructuring may prove useful at other dual mode schools. (Waddoups & Howell, 2002)

The changes are not unique to dual mode institutions. Single mode DE universities like Athabasca University in Canada have felt the need to respond to a growing demand for more social and synchronous and instruction. Individual programs within the university have been experimenting with course design and delivery models that deviate from the largely print-based, self-directed models common at Athabasca. (Galbraith, 2003)

On the one hand, current convergence trends are not very scalable. They still rely on the instructor to be both the course developer, and primary student contact. Administrators fail to change and don’t employ the systems approaches to DE (Moore & Kearsley, 1996) that are needed to create scalable solutions. Garrison (2000) ascribes this to their not “understanding how to create a viable strategic plan for adopting DE methods congruent with their institutional values and goals.” These models may not prove to be scalable as they are currently implemented, but this may be where the field contributes some leadership and guidance as we enter a post-industrial era of DE (Garrison, 2000). Simply adding student body by way of online courses does nothing to alleviate the enrollment caps many university’s struggle with, and in fact frustrate faculty who perceive they are being asked to do more with less.

While Sir John Daniels (1997), and many others puzzle as to why the United States does not adopt more scalable, student centered DE models, it is also possible that such models would not account for the diversity that this country is currently experiencing. Institutions continue to experiment and try new models. It was only last year that Stanford began formulating institution-wide policies for distance education despite its having had multiple successful forays into DE. “Better late than never”, says Mr. Leith, who adds that "the university better face these serious questions sooner rather than any later." (Chronicle, 2002)

Finally, what was until only recently a major, long standing hurdle facing distance education, was the discriminatory practice of Federal Financial Aid policies toward DE programs. New laws passed in 2002 overcome many of the hurdles and represent yet another example of the convergence described in this paper. This achievement will go a long way in further promoting demographic variance in the DE population.

Pedagogical Issues:
One common benefit realized in the design and development of DE course materials is an increased awareness and attention by all parties to goals, objectives, the learner and content. Often, simply the desire to put one’s course or syllabus “online” is enough to generate a healthy examination of the instructional materials and process. The benefits can be bi-directional in that examining one’s own course can lead to higher-level curriculum refinements. (Waddoups & Howell, 2002)

A cynical view of what modern DE has done to teachers and pedagogy is expressed by a professor’s union official in the following excerpt from the Chronicle for Higher Education (10/14/2001)
The traditional role of the professor is being "unbundled" by online-course creators, and its parts are being doled out to technology experts and instructional designers as online courses are being created…Faculty groups around the nation need to watch out for institutions that adopt a business-sector approach to their online programs and create "cookie-cutter" programs…that rob[s] the students of the diversity of knowledge that professors bring to the classroom

On one hand, experience has taught us that in order to scale up or realize efficiencies and cost savings, faculty must think differently about the shaping of their own courses, and be willing to incorporate products created by others (FIPSE, 2001). But what of the learner characteristics? Questions remain as whether the demographic shift described above should affect how we design our instruction. Young students who take DE courses cite flexibility as one of the major strengths. This flexibility demands that students pace themselves and initiate the search for help when they need it. Many of these students are ill-equipped to learn independently, and struggle when given the flexibility. (Waddoups & Howell, 2002) This point illustrates another potential contribution that the DE can make. DE programs should share their vast experience in coaching and supporting learners as they grow more independent.

FIPSE’s Learn Anytime, Anywhere Partnership (LAAP) grants sought to provide funding for partnerships willing to explore what is takes for non-traditional DE students to succeed. (FIPSE-LAAP, 2001). Similarly, Wallace asks “what components of adult education are well suited to this new population? For example, to what extent would the younger distance education students benefit from the adult education emphasis on constructed learning and self-directedness?”(1999, p.3). Some caution us from focusing too much on individual student styles and traits (Dillon & Greene, 2003; Merrill, 2002). They instead propose that we might better serve [all] students by helping them learn how to learn and acquire self-directedness and learning strategy skills. Any way you look at it, one call that must ring clear, is an invitation to move toward a learning-centered approach.

It might be said of DE in the past that there was too much focus on content and the individual student and self directed learning (SDL) was a DE reaction to the teacher-centered models of traditional campuses. Garrison (2003) believed that SDL, popularized during the 1970s, was simply misunderstood and never prescribed removing the teacher from the equation. For DE, the pedagogical challenge in this next era must include leadership and a focus on learning-centeredness. Explicating and sharing what the field has learned about the process of learning in more autonomous and independent ways.

The structure of the [British Open University] online classroom places the material and the student at the center of the learning environment and emphasizes the instructor’s role as facilitator. That is, the technology of the online classroom facilitates “collaborative and interactive teaching and learning” (Wegerif, 1998). The transformation of some traditional universities into such “self-study and distance teaching” organizations (Peters, 2000b) will likely take a long time, but evidence suggests it is happening.

Numerous learning-centered pedagogical issues and practices exist that are neither unique nor exclusive to distance education. Issues of media selection, modality, classroom management, synchronicity, use of discussion boards, online assessment, are all relevant and worthy pedagogical pursuits for DE practitioners, but they are not unique to their domain per se. What is and will remain unique to DE, are these same pedagogical issues and models just mentioned, but cast in a framework that is capable of concurrently or jointly addressing the increasingly diverse population concurrently with the traditional DE student.

Technological Issues:
The use of technology in higher education has regrettably been identified as synonymous with distance education in North America (Olcott, as cited in Holmberg, 1999). A consequence of this misrepresentation is that others, who now use technology, assume they also now know about distance education. That can only be as distant from the truth as DE practitioners and researchers in the field truly believe that it is. Two of Keegan’s (1990, p.44) five decisive characteristics of DE directly address technological issues, but illustrate the fact that technology is merely a means to an end:
The use of technical media -print, audio, video or computer- to unite teacher and learner and carry the content of the course.
The provision of two-way communication so that the student may benefit from or even initiate dialogue.(this distinguishes it from other uses of technology in education)

Two issues currently stand out with regard to DE and technology today: the Digital Divide, and the very technology-dependent issue of Learning Objects and SCORM. Firstly, the issue of digital divide is inescapable. DE has traditionally been highly accessible and portable. The demands, or perhaps merely expectations of the younger, college age demographic, are for more stimulating electronic learning environments. This in turn sets up requirements for computer access and internet access at a minimum. Beyond this, simply keeping up with current software releases presents a significant challenge, or potential barrier to access for many. Boshier & Onn (2000) eloquently summarize the issues:
We are disturbed by US hegemony (Boshier et al., 1999) and have reservations about techno-zealot or techno-utopian proclamations about the inevitability of education and democracy arriving at the end of fiberoptic cable. This is a particular problem for developing nations that are hard pressed to maintain a minimal infrastructure for traditional forms of education, let alone the kind of sophisticated technologies needed to secure access to the Web.

Secondly, born in the aerospace industry and brought to the DE forefront by the military and corporate training, the Self Contained Object Reference Model (SCORM) specifications for learning objects have the potential to significantly impact everything from authoring tools, to course managements systems, assessment tools, not to mention instructional design models and practices. In an ideal world, this type of highly modularized instruction should lead to very sharable, adaptable, brand-able, and interoperable instructional content. SCORM adherents claim the specifications only define/prescribe the packaging and handling of information, and not the sequencing or design of instruction. (Advanced Distributed Learning, 2003)

Numerous challenges, however, exist with learning objects and SCORM. A steep learning curve and high upfront development costs are necessitated to make existing content conform to SCORM specifications. Although it smacks highly of the industrial model of DE, (a negative for some) instructors, designers and administrators should be aware of its promise to enhance the educational experience for all parties. It allows for much more efficient tracking of students or self monitoring of progress through learning materials and has the potential to individualize instruction to the learner on multiple levels.

Clearly, technological convergences offer clear benefits to dual mode institutions when it comes to providing student services. Shared registration and student information databases, grading engines, course management systems, server administration and backup facilities, shared library services and accounting practices all make fiscal and administrative sense.

“The idea of using communication technology to deliver instruction at a distance is at least as old as the invention of universal postal systems in the 19th century” (Moore, 2003), so post-industrial technologies will neither replace industrial approaches to distance education (Garrison, 2000), nor pull it from its moorings and charter to serve the disadvantaged. Hopefully, the DE field will use these technologies and current opportunities to experience its own growth and to invite others into the fold.

Organizational Issues:
In the preceding section, the suggestion was made that courses both on and off campus generally benefit from going on line. Organizationally, this is not as smooth as it may appear. Tied to the act of posting one’s course, lectures, learning activities online, or putting them in print, is the observable record. Von Pittman (2002, p.119)) describes it as “signing their work.” DE instructors have come to terms with the fact that their content was made available for peers, parents, administrators and a host of others to see—and critique. Luckily, in the systems that support DE, faculty have had help or have been part of design teams in putting together their course materials. Such is not the practice for on-campus faculty. Pittman goes on to say describe how:
Their teaching is on display in a way that it never has been in the conventional classroom, where any shortcomings were more or less hidden from public view. Great visibility has always been a part of distance education…but now that it is coming into the mainstream, this kind of open display implies greater oversight and more systematic accountability on the part of the institution. (2002, p. 119)

Institutions are also affected and need to be far more aware of issues of intellectual property and copyright infringement. Copyrighted materials, perhaps used unwittingly for years in the “private” once posted on official university-branded courses, set the institution up for potential legal action. If on campus faculty are to get the same level of support as DE faculty, where will the money come from?

Additional administrative issues that continue to be high priority in DE are student attrition rates. Research might be conducted on whether the new younger group of resident DE students significantly affect attrition statistics. Faculty load, compensation for DE and intellectual property issues are perennial topics of discussion among faculty as are whether DE instruction and course development count toward promotion and tenure. Universities would be well advised to include DE professors and administrators in discussions on such matters.

At the risk of sounding trivial, do DE students demonstrate an affinity for school mascots or demonstrate school loyalty or spirit? Is there strong identification with one’s DE alma mater? What is the relationship between alumni giving and distance education students? How might it change if students are from out of state or enrolled in non-degree seeking DE programs? With regard to the mainstreaming affect, will resident students who begin taking DE courses give on average as much as students who don’t take DE courses? It is obviously too early to know, but the impact, and answers to such questions are no trivial matter to university development and foundation offices.
Finally, the burden remains on DE practitioners to ensure that high standards of quality and benchmarks are met. The issue of quality assurance has by and large been dealt with by individual faculty or by the DE unit, but as organizational structures are realigned, and departments are merged, it is important that quality control positions or and resources are safeguarded. This will go a long way in legitimizing the field and distinguishing DE professionals from their less experienced peers.

Conclusion:
It is hoped that “what’s next” for distance education has been made somewhat clearer. Despite the emulation of distance education practices becoming mainstreamed, the work is clearly not done, and the researchers interested in the field cannot lay idle if it is to remain relevant. Holmberg (2000) characterizes DE research to have risen to an acceptable level, and that the field is a legitimate discipline. He and others call for increased research in theory building. (Moore, personal communication, 2003; Holmberg, 2000; Garrison, 2000; Peters, 2000b)

First, the demographic trends and characteristics described in this paper should be empirically verified and analyzed. New post industrial era DE models that are inclusive of this new audience need to be developed. In particular, if dual mode institutions are in pursuit of unsustainable distance education goals, simply mis- or re-branded as distributed or online learning, they’ll need to be provided with viable systems-view strategies for addressing the trends and demands being made on them. And what of fundraising for the institution? What research might be conducted to discover the giving patterns of DE students, and what strategies might be employed to raise giving levels among this unique population?

The traditional DE population has not gone away, if anything it too continues to grow. With all the buzz surrounding residents students and online learning, it only risks being eclipsed by a younger, louder, more needy, [and arguably less deserving] crowd. DE has long been about serving disadvantaged populations. New and existing scalable DE models should not be abandoned either for the traditional DE student nor for the new demographic. Correspondence and independent study models should not be abandoned, but where sustainable, be applied to appropriate situations.

It is the sign of truly blessed times to have so much opportunity and diversity in choices to improve ones lot in life. DE researches need to remain active and vigilant to ensure that quality, viable models can be developed to support hybrid and traditional DE programs.

[See PDF for full article and references]


Mainstreaming_DE.pdf

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